Enriching the brand experience with user journeys

by Bram Boot - December 17, 2014

Nowadays, brands are challenged to provide an excellent user experience which goes beyond creating products with the best features, which are easy to use and fit the user’s needs and wallets. Customers are beginning to want more from their brands - expecting them and their products to add value to their daily lives - anytime, anywhere.

To increase user engagement brands have started creating utilities meaningful to the people that use your brand.

Flamigel for example introduced Flamigel Hot or Not; heat-sensitive stickers that warn children for hot objects.

With the stickers Flamigel doesn’t only help treating injuries but also helps to prevent them.

IBM launched a campaign for smart cities, which added the utility touch to street billboards. By providing simple yet clever solutions daily city lives was made just a little better.

IBM & Ogilvy France Create Ads With A New Purpose in its latest "People For Smarter Cities" from Ogilvy Paris on Vimeo.

Customers started to expect information and tools to aid them anytime, anywhere. This is the perfect opportunity for brands to extend the user experience by creating meaningful utilities. But how to identify what is meaningful to your users?

Brand experience is bigger than the sum of the user experiences for the various touch points

Optimizing the user experience for each of the individual touch points is only a first step towards creating a great brand experience. It’s ever so important to consider how the touch points relate to each other and create a holistic view of how your customers will interact with your brand.

User journeys just do so; it’s a simple technique that allows creating an omni-channel view of what your brand has to offer to your users. A clear overview of your customers’ interactions with the brand is created by identifying the various channels, the touch points for each of these channels and the desired user experience throughout all of the touch points. The customer journey links all touch points and channels together what makes it easy to create consistency and continuity in the experience.

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The customer journey links various channels together creating a holistic experience

Evaluating the current customer journeys helps identifying where your customer’s experience with your brand can be improved. These improvements can differ from incremental fixes, to streamlining the services offered as well as introducing brand utilities that allow the user to engage in a more valuable way with your brand.

Building onto the user journey with personalization and contextualization

In today’s relationship with the user personalization and a constantly changing context are increasingly more important. For a brand to add value to the user’s daily lives the differences between people and situations need to be taken into account, by creating on-the-go & in-the-moment brand interactions for the user.

Consider a user journey for a specific user profile. A lot of guessing will be going on with respect to the real needs and desires. By building close relations with your customers and using CRM data as well as taking note of customer behavior the customer journey can be highly tailored to the specific needs of a specific user. Be cautious though: there will always be a balance between your customer delight and creepiness.

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Michelle Kang (@mikanger)

Adding context to the equation allows tailoring to your user’s needs based on time, location, proximity, weather conditions, etc. With every addition the chances for adding better value to your customers increases. The complexity to manage all the parameters increases as well. Customer journeys are your friend providing the necessary overview and details to identify opportunities for offering meaningful utilities to engage with your brand.

Bram Boot

Head of UX and Service design